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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills barely hang onto final playoff spot with lots of help

Buffalo won, but still needed help to stay in position

The Buffalo Bills won their game on Sunday, but for a brief moment Sunday evening, they were on the outside looking in on the 2021 AFC Playoff Picture. While the Baltimore Ravens were still playing, they held the AFC North division lead while the Cincinnati Bengals knocked out the Bills in the Wild Card. Baltimore’s eventual loss to the Green Bay Packers was enough to keep Buffalo in position.

Pretty much every result went Buffalo’s way this weekend, but the biggest game outside of their own was the New England Patriots losing to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. That opened the door for the Bills to win the AFC East. If Buffalo wins out, they are the division champions. This Sunday’s game in Foxborough should decide who wins the AFC East.

The Baltimore Ravens fell to the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Denver Broncos, so Cincy is now the top team in the AFC North.

Baltimore enters the Wild Card scenario, but they are at the bottom of the four-team race for three spots, and looking to crawl back in. The Cleveland Browns can join the mix on Monday night. The Bills and Ravens are in the clump at 8-6 with the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers lost to the Chiefs on Thursday night.

The Colts are 7-3 in the AFC and win the four-way tiebreaker followed by the Chargers at 5-4 in the AFC. The Bills and Ravens go to record in common games. Those common opponents are the Chiefs, Colts, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Buffalo is 3-2 in those games while the Ravens beat the Chiefs and Colts but lost to the Dolphins and Steelers. They have one game left against Pittsburgh and could even that record, which would then force the tiebreakers to Strength of Victory. In that case, the Bills would likely lose. That’s a long way away, though.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Pittsburgh Steelers knocked off the Tennessee Titans, so if Buffalo beats the Patriots and Tennessee loses on Thursday night to the San Francisco 49ers, the Bills could move all the way past Tennessee in the Conference standings.

The Miami Dolphins won and the Denver Broncos lost, but both are 7-7 and still hanging on. The Raiders can join them and tie the Browns at 7-7 with a win Monday night.

Here is an up-to-date look at the conference standings with tiebreakers. Please note the division leaders are listed first.

AFC Standings

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  2. New England Patriots (9-5, win over TEN)
  3. Tennessee Titans (9-5, loss to NE)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, win over BAL)
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 7-3 AFC)
  6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6, 5-4 AFC)
  7. Buffalo Bills (8-6, 5-5 AFC, 3-2 in common games with BAL)
  8. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 5-5, 2-2 in common games with BUF)
  9. Cleveland Browns (7-6)*
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)
  11. Miami Dolphins (7-7, 5-5 AFC)
  12. Denver Broncos (7-7, 3-6 AFC)
  13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)*
  14. New York Jets (3-11, win over NYJ)++
  15. Houston Texans (3-11, loss to NYJ)++
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)++

* - Still to play in Week 15
++ - Eliminated from the playoffs